Severe weather across Canada resulted in approximately $1.9 billion of re/insured losses in 2018, according to data from Catastrophe Indices and Quantification Inc. (Cat IQ).
The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) noted that 2018 had the fourth-highest amount of losses on record, with ice storms, floods, windstorms and tornadoes damaging homes, vehicles and commercial properties across the country.
However, unlike in other heavy loss years, no single event contributed significantly to the insured total, with damages resulting from a host of smaller weather events in all areas of Canada.
This was a trend that was mirrored on the global scale, according to recent reports from broker Willis Towers Watson, which claimed that smaller catastrophe events made up most of the $71.5 billion industry loss in 2018.
The most costly weather events in Canada last year included an early May windstorm that affected Ontario and parts of Quebec ($410 million insured losses), Ottawa-Gatineau tornadoes and windstorms ($295 million), summer storms across the Prairies ($240 million), and a mid-April ice storm that affected southern Ontario ($190 million).
IBC attributed the rise in smaller-scale weather damages to the affects of climate change and said it is working closely with governments at all levels to advocate for increased investment to mitigate the future impacts of extreme weather and build resiliency to its damaging effects.
This includes investment in new infrastructure to protect communities from floods and fires, improved building codes, better land-use planning, and creating incentives to shift the development of homes and businesses away from areas of highest risk.
IBC also estimated that for every dollar paid out in insurance claims for homes and businesses, the Canadian governments pay out $3 to recover public infrastructure damaged by severe weather.
“Climate change is costing Canadian taxpayers, governments and businesses billions of dollars each and every year,” said Craig Stewart, Vice-President of Federal Affairs for IBC. “We must take the necessary steps to limit these losses in the future. The cost of inaction is too high.”
IBC is the national industry association representing Canada’s private home, auto and business insurers. Its member companies make up 90% of the property and casualty (P&C) insurance market in Canada.